Mont Blanc hiking tour – Southern Half

Concise details on the Mont Blanc hiking tour – Southern Half can be obtained by downloading the tour pdf [right]. Alternatively, read the tour description below and click through the sub-headings in the right-hand column for information on getting to Chamonix (the starting point), accommodation, prices and what’s included.

M

ont Blanc hiking tour – Southern Half is the second half of our TMB extravaganza. Equipped with our unique walking notes, you set off from Chamonix [where you left off last year?] and continue your anti-clockwise tour around the Mont Blanc Massif route, closing the spiritual circle at Courmayeur, Italy, five days later.

Mont Blanc hiking tour – Southern Half helps you realise that rite of passage that you felt you just had to achieve, irrespective of your age, before you move onto the next goal on life’s wish-list. Can I do it? Yes, you can! The TMB attracts all sorts of people and some have never been on a walking holiday in their lives. Such is the trail’s magnetic attraction, some punters simply loose their common sense. You, of course, do not fit that mold.

However, should I do it after walking The Enlightened Traveller’s main TMB mini-Tour? Yes, we believe you should – unless, of course, you plan to walk the whole tour with us in one go. Why? Two reasons: firstly, it’s more difficult [‘challenging’ as opposed to ‘quite challenging’]; secondly, it takes you into more remote and rugged areas, with the attendant dynamics. In fact, we recommend you read these tour details in conjunction with those contained in our [Courmayeur to Chamonix] TMB mini-tour.

No healthy and relatively-fit person should feel that the TMB is beyond them – it most certainly isn’t. So long as your detailed arrangements are made by experts, and you’re not having to worry about where to eat and sleep, nor navigational issues, the day’s walking becomes sheer enjoyment – including the ascents and descents, which you have plenty of time to negotiate at your own pace.”

- Margot Shona of The Enlightened Traveller

Haute Savoie

  • 6-night price:
    £775.00 Pounds Sterling or €890.00 Euros
    [based on two sharing a double or twin-bedded room]

• Option to add extra days/nights: Argentière to Chamonix?

Note: Please contact us to check for the latest Sterling prices. Sterling prices are confirmed at the time of booking.
    • Challenging, 6-night, TMB mini-tour, with two optional extra days’ walking – please ask for details.
    • Enjoy two-and-a-half days in France and Italy.
    • Stay in the best accommodation available and experience a night in a private room in refuge Elizabetta.
    • Start in vibrant Chamonix and finish in idyllic Courmayeur.
    • Walk the Balcon du Sud and the remoter southern section.
    • Choose between the High or Low Route from Les Houches to Les Contamines – or add an extra night and walk both.
    • Option to add an extra night, start in l’Argentiere, and enjoy Lac Blanc and the ‘northern section’ of the Balcon du Sud.
    • Bad weather transfers – conditions apply.*
    • We transfer your luggage from hotel to hotel.

* Please ask us for details.

    • Self-guided, 6-night, challenging trip, round the bottom half of the Mont Blanc route.
    • Luggage transfers from start to finish – one case up to 20 kgs per person.
    • Start any day from 23rd June to 9 September.
    • Walk the classic route anti-clockwise for an enhanced experience
    • Average 6 to 6½ hours and 10½ miles/17 kms a day.
    • Tour starts in Chamonix [France ]and finishes in sumptuous Courmayeur, Italy [just 30 mins from Chamonix, France via the Mont Blanc tunnel].
    • Convenient access from France, Italy or Switzerland.
    • Carefully-selected accommodation of a high standard, with private rooms [no ‘dortoirs’/dormitories] throughout and en suite facilities the norm – except for the one refuge in which you stay.

• Extra day option offers the chance to savour both the more-leisurely Low Route and the more-impressive High Route between Les Houches and Les Contamines. Alternatively, start from l’Argentiere, and enjoy Lac Blanc and the ‘northern section’ of the Balcon du Sud. Please ask us for details.

  • 6 nights B & B in ‘3-star and superior 2-star standard’ hotels, one auberge and one middle-mountain refuge [private room] plus all hotel taxes
  • 4 evening meals – leaving you free to choose where to purchase lunch en route and dinner in towns where options are available – fully documented in tour dossier.
  • Luggage transfers throughout¹.
  • Hiking Insight Notes™ that empower & make orientation easy
  • 1:25,000 scale maps & themed vacation dossier.
  • Emergency telephone help-line service with native-English speaking backup.

Notes:
¹ one case up to 20 kgs max. weight.

    Due to the popularity of Chamonix, the options for getting to the resort are plentiful. You spend your first night in Les Praz de Chamonix, one stop [5 minutes] on the train from Chamonix, so that you wake up right next to the cable car for the start of your hiking the next day. Spend your arrival day in Chamonix and sleep with the peace of mind that you are exactly where you want to be on the morning of Day Two.

  • By Road – frequent ‘SAT’ coaches take you from Geneva Airport or Northern Italy to Chamonix;
    Road access is also possible via the Grand St. Bernard way above Martigny in Switzerland. The ValD’Aosta tunnel makes it very easy to reach the town from Aosta, Turin or Milan;
    Courmayeur can also be reached by bus via daily services from the main cities of northern Italy Turin, Milan, Genoa.
  • By Train – The Mont Blanc Express: This SNCF railway line serves all villages from St Gervais-le Fayet to Martigny (Switzerland) via Servoz, Les Houches, Chamonix, Chamonix Les Praz, Argentière and Vallorcine. Our customers recommend RailEurope.com for research and ticketing.
  • By Air – Getting to Chamonix is relatively straightforward from the following major airports:
    1. Geneva International Airport, with onward connections by train [hourly via Martigny] or bus [via the SAT bus company] or via airport transfer.
    2. Lyon International Airport, with onward connections by train [via Annecy].
    3. Charles de Gaulle with onward connections by train.
  • Family-run accommodation, carefully selected on the basis of superior facilities, location, service and welcome;
  • Private rooms throughout – no ‘dortoirs’/dormitories.
  • We bring you:
    • Praz de Chamonix- 3-star hotel
    • Les Houches, 3-star hotel;
    • Les Contamines, superior 2-star hotel;
    • Chapieux, one-star walkers’ inn;
    • Val Veni, Refuge Elizabetta [private room without WC & bathroom] and
    • Courmayeur, 3-star hotel.
    Note: option to merge the last two days [approx.6½ hrs] via a shuttle bus to Courmayeur, thus avoiding the over-nighter in Elizabetta. Ask us for details.
  • Warm, but short summers;
  • Alpine flora and fauna – ibex, bouquetins, marmots;
  • Classic alpine topography: jagged, ice-covered peaks and flat, glaciated valleys;
  • A fine and varied mix of undulating trail through alpine pasture and along broad ridge. Morning climbs and late-afternoon descents are the norm.

TMB Part 2 map

As is the case with that original mini-tour, we have dissected this half of Le Tour into the most practical stages possible. Once again, our aim is to get away from ‘Les Crowds’ by not starting in Les Houches. Moreover, we cut out the avoidable pain of the monotonous climb on tarmac and ski slope that characterizes the Les Houches to Col de Voza section [first thing on Day 3] and, instead, replace it with the ‘telecabine’ to Bellevue. This also allows you the luxury of delaying the choice until you are ‘up there’ between the all-weather Lower Route, or the fine weather Higher Route via Miage to Les Contamines. Yes that’s right: we provide both sets of notes so you are empowered to make the choice when it suits you; and as you haven’t struggled up from Les Houches, you are fit and raring to go whichever route you opt for, and with extra time to boot!

Note: these two routes are so diverse and interesting that you may like the idea of adding an extra night to the tour and walking both. Please ask us for details of how this can be done, which would involve an extra night in Les Houches. Alternatively, if you have not walked the northern half of the TMB, why not start from l’Argentiere and enjoy Lac Blanc and the ‘northern section’ of the Balcon du Sud to boot? This just requires an additional night’s stay.

The Les-Contamines-to-Les-Chapieux section is exhilarating, if long and challenging – the alternative route is uninviting and NOT all weather. After that you once again have choices, but our advice is to take your time, delight in the alpine ambiance and opt for our standard tour format that takes two days from Les Chapieux to Courmayeur.

Mont Blanc hiking tour – Southern Half sees you enjoy an overnight stay in the Elizabetta refuge which, for most, will be the only refuge you ever get to stay in – so why not go for it on the penultimate night of your Tour du Mont Blanc experience? However, if time is short, and you are very fit, you can save 24 hours by opting for a very challenging [ten hour] walking day, with opportunities to shave off up to 3½ hours by bus, cable car or both*.

* Note that these options only exist in July and August, so are NOT available to those walking at the beginning or the end of the TMB season. If this shortened option still appeals, please ask us for details and a quote.

Mont Blanc hiking tour – Southern Half: Tour Itinerary

[Times and ascents/descents are an approximation.]

Day 1: Arrive in Chamonix Les Praz [France] and hotel check-in. You are one stop from busy Chamonix, so can enjoy the town itself and sleep in peace and quiet just two minutes walk from the La Flagere cable car.

Day 2

Les Praz de Chamonix to
Les Houches

[10½ miles-17 kms, +770ms/–1550ms,
6½ hrs]

Mont Blanc

Walk out the hotel, take the cable car up to La Flagere and get straight into the TMB action: le Balcon du Sud, the splendid col du Brevent, the magnificent panorama from Brevent itself and the descent to Les Houches via Le Merlet.

Night in Les Houches.

Day 3

Les Houches to Les Contamines

Low or all-weather Route via Bionnassay
[10 miles-16 kms, +90 ms/–640ms, 4 hrs] or
High Route via Refuge de Miage
[11 miles-18 kms, +840ms/ –580ms, 5¾ hrs]

High or Low Route

Avoid the knee-crunching and monotonous climb, take the cable car up to Bellevue and, depending on the weather, and your mood, opt for the trail that suits you to Les Contamines – or why not stay an extra night and enjoy them both?

Night in Les Contamines.

Day 4

Les Contamines to Les Chapieux

[11 miles-18 kms, +1320ms/–930ms, 7 hrs]

Col du Bonhomme

Follow the Bon Nant Torr past Notre Dames de la Gorge and two refuges en route to the Col du Bonhomme and Col de la Croix. Lunch in the refuge du Bonhomme is followed by the descent to Les Chapieux and your welcoming auberge.

Night in Les Chapieux.

Day 5

Les Chapieux to Ref Elizabetta

[9½ miles-15 kms, +1000ms/–260ms, 5 hrs]

Vallee des Glaciers

The Vallee des Glaciers is a joy to behold. Enjoy a quick drink at Les Mottets before climbing up to the Col de la Seigne and into Italy. The views are delightful as too is the descent into Lex Blanche.

Night in Elizabetta.

Day 6

Refuge Elizabetta to Courmayeur

[11 miles-18 kms, +460ms/–1580ms, 5 hrs]

Lex Blanche

Your final day takes you further down the Lex Blanche before ypu climb up past abandoned farmsteads overlooking the remains of the Miage Glacier. The balcony trail to the Col Checrouit makes for a fine end to this superb hiking trip.

Note: option to merge Days 5 and 6 [approx.6½ hrs] via a shuttle bus to Courmayeur, thus avoiding the over-nighter in Elizabetta. Please ask us for details.

Night in Courmayeur.

Day 7?

Why not extend the trip?

Les Houches to Les Contamines: see Day 3

or

Start your tour from Argentière and walk:

Argentière to La Flegere
[7 miles-11 kms, 5½ hrs, +1100ms/-470ms]

Night in Les Praz de Chamonix.

Day 7 (or 8?): Departure day – breakfast and onward journey by bus to Chamonix, Milan or Turin or transfer to Geneva – please ask us for details.

Further Reading
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